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Curran ready to prove doubters wrong at NFL combine

DULUTH -- Rennie Curran has heard the knock on him. He's too short to play linebacker in the NFL.

At 5-foot, 101/2 inches and 235 pounds, the former Brookwood and Georgia standout has heard what the naysayers think about his size. It's something he can't control, but he's hoping to prove them wrong next week.

Curran will take part in the NFL Draft combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Monday. Curran and hundreds of other potential NFL players will go through a series of drills, tests and interviews with more than 600 NFL personnel representatives on hand.

"The only knock on me is my height, but I feel like it's one of my strengths and it's gotten me to where I am," Curran said. "There's a lot of things I can show them that will be a strength than what they say is weakness.

"My technique, my ability to get off blockers, get to the ball, you're not going to watch film and see me not around the ball. That's one of the things, my production. I feel like I can put that up against any linebackers they have in the draft right now. The consistency, the leadership, I feel like I have a lot of intangibles that will help me out in the draft despite what they are saying will be a setback by my height."

Curran was a three-year starter at Brookwood from 2004-06, earning Daily Post Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2005 and 2006. Despite his height, he signed with UGA were he made an immediate impact. He started five games as a true freshman and earned all-SEC honors as a sophomore and junior. Curran gave up his senior year at Georgia to go to the NFL Draft. Since making his decision public in January, Curran has been training at Competitive Edge Sports in Duluth.

He trained with Chip Smith's CES staff while in high school and is back with them again to get him to the NFL. It's a good spot because it's close to home and because CES has helped more than 900 players get to the NFL since 1990.

"It's business. You want to come in here and get as much work as you can each day," Curran said. "It's up to you how much you progress."

Curran has been working out at CES four days a week with other prospective linebackers and defensive linemen. Even current pro players like Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood and New York Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur train with Curran.

"It's an awesome place to be. You've got guys you're training with that you played against," Curran said. "It's a real competitive environment and everyone is trying to achieve their dreams, so it's good when you've got a group of guys trying to achieve the same goals and pushing each other to make each other better."

Curran's workouts usually consist of speed and resistance running, weight room workouts and a grueling pool workout. He spend about four hours a day at CES and then another two hours going to the doctor to make sure his hips and shoulders are in place and works on different body movements. Another two hours of play book and film study make for an eight-hour work day.

"It's a full-time job, but I can't complain. I'm doing something I love," Curran said.

Curran leaves for the NFL combine Friday and will go through the drills and tests, which have often been compared to a meat market, later in the week.

How well he does at the combine will could be a big boost to how high he's drafted in April's NFL draft. Last year North Gwinnett grad Jared Cook wowed scouts with his athletic abilities for a tight end and he was taken in the third round.

"I'm looking forward to everything. Just being out there with the best athletes in college football and trying to prove myself," Curran said. "Just being out there and proving to these NFL coaches that I belong in the league."

Curran can't change how tall he is, but he has improved his strength and speed over the last few months at CES. He was timed on a electronic clock in the 40-yard dash with a 4.5-second speed. And whenever someone brings up his lack of height, Curran points to a handful of 6-foot and under linebackers that have succeeded. Guys like London Fletcher and Zach Thomas, both under 6-foot, have been Pro Bowl linebackers.

"Whenever someone talks about me they say he's a good player, but his height. That's something I can't control and something people have always talked about," Curran said. "But at the end of the day, I can only do what I can do. I can only do my best and try to improve in areas I can improve. I can't really stretch myself out. I can't really take any pills to get taller. If there's a pill out there that can make me taller, I probably would have found it by now. I can only control what I can control."